A McCarthy ton lifts the Catholic cricket team

Divine: St Aloysius's Fr James McCarthy has been inspiring his local Parish after scoring an impressive century in a Sydney cricket competition.Picture: Giovanni Portelli, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
Divine: St Aloysius's Fr James McCarthy has been inspiring his local Parish after scoring an impressive century in a Sydney cricket competition.Picture: Giovanni Portelli, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

The Parish Priest of St Aloysius Gonzaga, Cronulla, Fr James McCarthy has been inspiring members of his local community to take up cricket this summer, after scoring an impressive century in a Sydney competition.

Formed in 1999, the Papal Bulls field a team in the Inner West Harbour and Church Cricket NSW Joint Competition.Fr James' team plays most of its matches at Clemton Park Kingsgrove and Cooke Park, Belfield.

39 year old Fr James, who has been playing cricket since the age of 8, scored a remarkable 109 not out for the Papal Bulls Catholic Cricket Club in their match against Gypsies Cricket Club at Five Dock Park.

Fr James said it was a decades-long dream to score a century for the team he first joined as soon as he left high school.

"Some things come quickly and some things take years to work at. So better late than never!", he joked.

While the Papal Bulls still ended up falling eight runs short of victory, Fr James helped turn around the team's performance after a poor start.

Cricket is a long-standing family tradition for Fr James. His grandfather Kerry Slattery played grade cricket for St George in the 1930s and 1940s, while his father, John McCarthy QC has been involved in cricket administration for well over a decade with the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust.

While studying for the priesthood in Rome from 2005-2008, Fr James developed the idea of a Vatican Cricket Team and his father helped get all the necessary approvals in place in his role then as Australia's Ambassador to the Vatican.

A talented all-rounder, Fr James is also a skilled opening bowler, who is accustomed to troubling batsmen with his fast left arm bowling, once clocked at just under 140 k/h.

Papal Bulls team-mate and St Aloysius parishioner, Tim Gibson, has played with Fr James for many years and greatly admires his talents on the cricket field.

He said there was a great sense of camaraderie across the team where everyone is made to feel welcome, whatever their skill level.

"Some of us are very talented in the team and others not so. But we try to be really inclusive where we take everybody onboard", he added.

Fellow St Aloysius Cronulla parishioner, Michael Sakowicz was invited by Fr James to join the Papal Bulls team earlier this year and said he has greatly enjoyed being part of the team.

"I'm sure Fr James' efforts will help inspire more students in our local Catholic schools like St Aloysius at Cronulla and St Francis De Sales at Woolooware to play cricket as well", he said.

Fr James said he is looking forward to playing more regularly for the Papal Bulls alongside Cronulla deacon, Michael Kasiita and he has set himself a new target as a bowler.

"I've never taken a hat-trick, so that's now my next personal goal", he joked.